Rarity: A Ranger goal celebration. AP Photo/Mike Strasinger
With the Rangers seemingly in a tail spin and with the injuries mounting it really isn’t time to panic no matter how bleak it may seem at present. That said, changes do need to be made.
The Rangers have an opportunity to insert the likes of JT Miller, Danny Kristo and Dylan McIlrath now and give them consistent ice time and at no real risk. All of the aforementioned cannot do worse than the likes of Benoit Pouliot, Taylor Pyatt and (this season at least) any combination of Falk, Del Zotto and John Moore. If all they achieve this season is to become role players – or even that they simply avoid being liabilities – then it’s almost already an upgrade and developmental time long term.
With the team generating little to no offense, inconsistent (at best) defense and with spaces to fill thanks to an injury list that could backfill a local hospital there is an opportunity to exploit. Alain Vigneault has bemoaned the lack of appropriate player types and perhaps that’s true but is that because he’s simply icing the wrong type or is it that he hasn’t got them within the entire organisation? It’s time to find out.
Barring a disaster of epic proportions, Vigneault has time on his side so it would surely benefit him to look at the prospects available. He’s not getting fired this season unless the Rangers go on a winless streak that would threaten riots in New York.
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In a relatively unsurprising move, considering the discussions today about a need for some grit, the Rangers recalled winger Arron Asham from the Hartford Wolf Pack today, and returned rookie J.T. Miller back to Hartford. Asham is someone who can be a viable replacement while Derek Dorsett nurses his wrist injury, bringing some necessary grit and anti-vanilla to the lineup that this team desperately needs. He will make this team tougher to play against.
As for Miller, his time will come. He still needs work, as his game away from the puck leaves much to be desired.
The Rangers have recalled forward J.T. Miller from the Hartford Wolf Pack. In six games with the Pack this year, Miller has a line of 5-1-6 with 6 PIMs and a +4 rating. Miller has spent most of his time with the Rangers this season, dressing for 15 games and a 1-1-2 line with a -4 rating and 8 PIMs.
With both Taylor Pyatt and Benoit Pouliot struggling, it is expected that Miller will be inserted into the lineup for one of them.
In a move that is probably a week late, the Rangers have sent J.T. Miller to the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. Miller had been a healthy scratch since the 11/17 game against LA, a 1-0 loss. In his time with New York, Miller was placed on the fourth line, rarely given offensive minutes. The reason the Rangers kept him around was as an extra body in case of injury on the road trip.
With Miller’s demotion it is expected that Taylor Pyatt will be ready to return by Friday’s game in Boston. Pyatt has been out with a concussion, and Friday would be the earliest the club would need him.
As the season has progressed the biggest concern has been the play of some of the veterans, specifically Benoit Pouliot and Taylor Pyatt (when healthy), and why a player like J.T. Miller isn’t in the lineup instead. None of the three have been consistent enough to warrant a full time spot on the roster, and it can be argued that some have been bad enough to get Prucha’d full time.
Starting with the vets, Pyatt brings a physical game and some good board work to the lineup when healthy, but he has cement in his skates. Pouliot is a fluid skater and creative offensively, but does nothing without the puck and has taken bad offensive zone penalties. Miller is a bit of a mix, bringing good board work and good skating to the lineup, but he is lost without the puck and in the defensive zone. This seems like a “pick your poison” type of decision, but let’s look into the stats a bit.
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With apologies to Taylor Pyatt, the forward roster last night finally resembled the one Ranger fans were so excited about over the summer.
The lineup didn’t include J.T. Miller, but coach Alain Vigneault insisted yesterday that Miller would be back on the ice with the Blueshirts soon. But barring further injuries, the team’s top-six is clearly set, and Miller will likely be stuck with fourth-line minutes even when he does play.
In fact, Miller hasn’t played more than 9:14 in any of his last six games dating back to November 2, just after Carl Hagelin’s return. In the nine games before that, Miller had averaged 13:17, a pretty big number for a young player. But as Hagelin, Ryan Callahan, Dominic Moore and finally Rick Nash were reinserted into the lineup, Miller’s ice-time dipped lower and lower until he was finally sent to the press box. Read more »
A strong, prolonged period of results was slightly tarnished with the sloppy, unnecessary loss to the Devils earlier this week. Sloppy goals, defensive lapses and a lack of finish had many reminding us of the early season edition of the Rangers. With games against the Canadiens and Kings on the weekend it’s a big couple of days for the Rangers. On to the musings
Generally speaking, the Rangers have played well in recent games and this has highlighted the contributions from the youth on the roster such as Chris Kreider. With the Wolf Packing doing pretty well too, it makes the Rangers prospect ranking of 27th on Hockey’s Future (if you buy into that kind of thing) pretty farcical.
Danny Kristo, JT Miller, Jesper Fast, Kreider (still not classed as ‘graduated’), Dylan McIlrath, Oscar Lindberg and ‘Boo’ Nieves highlight a pretty talented pool if you ask me. There’s a ton of NHL upside in the Rangers system and the best part is none of it needs to be rushed. The only area of real concern (in my humble opinion) is in goal.
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Per Steve Zipay, J.T. Miller will be back in the lineup tonight against the Penguins. Brandon Mashinter will sit to make room for Miller in the lineup. Mashinter played very little in the loss to Anaheim.
Per Larry Brooks, captain Ryan Callahan appears to be returning tonight against Anaheim. Cally suffered a broken thumb a few weeks ago in Washington, and was scheduled to be out for 3-4 weeks. A return tonight would put him right on the three week return date.
To make room for Cally in the lineup J.T. Miller will be a healthy scratch. Coach Alain Vigneault noted that Miller had a tough game in Carolina, which is the reason for his removal from the lineup. Taylor Pyatt still remains in the lineup.
Kreider is earning his ice time.
With all the additional ice time, Chris Kreider is getting better with every game. But he isn’t scoring. JT Miller is beginning to impact games in a multitude of ways. But he isn’t scoring. Generally, the Rangers aren’t scoring. However, despite this team being in a depressing state offensively, the coaching staff needs to stick with the younger players.
While sending Jesper Fast back to the WolfPack was the right thing to do, Miller and Kreider are getting good minutes and they are now showing clear progression. The Rangers won’t derail their season by playing these two promising youngsters – now they are showing some NHL readiness – but they may damage their own long term potential beyond this season if they revert to leaning on the veterans with limited upside.
Despite some indifferent starts, the Rangers can still be excited at the long term potential of their top nine forwards. With Carl Hagelin’s return and with Kreider, Miller, Derick Brassard, Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan’s presence, the Rangers have an excellent young core to build around Rick Nash. It may not be the most overly skilled top nine but there is still a nice balance of skill, speed and work ethic. You live with the growing pains.
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